Media Hits & Misses

Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker: Site Made To Exploit Human ‘Vulnerability’

  By Olivia Solon The Guardian (10/9/17) Facebook’s founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology” from the outset, according to the company’s founding president Sean Parker. Parker, whose stake in Facebook made him a billionaire, criticized the social networking giant at an Axios event in Philadelphia this week. Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker was there to speak about advances in cancer therapies. However, he took the time to provide some insight into the early thinking at Facebook at a time when social media companies face intense scrutiny from…

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Nunes Played The Press Like A Fiddle. Why Do Journalists Keep Falling For This Dumb Trick?

By Monika Bauerlein Mother Jones (2/3/18) It’s a weird feeling when your organization’s reporting ends up at the center of a scandal bordering on constitutional crisis. But things have been weird, and here we are: MoJo‘s October 2016 story about the Steele dossier is a key data point in the Nunes memo (though they couldn’t even get the date right—more on that later). That inclusion, and how it came to pass, tells us a lot about journalism, propaganda, and what democracy is up against. Let’s unpack that a bit. First, propaganda: Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Nunes episode is how effectively…


Dutch Reporters Offer Master Class To Limp White House Press Corps By Refusing To Let Trump Official Tell ‘Blatant Lies’

  By Julia Conley Common Dreams (1/11/18) Weeks after leaving a Dutch reporter stunned by denying that he’d made televised remarks about terrorism, several of the Netherlands’ political journalists refused to allow a Trump appointee to ignore their questions about the incident, demonstrating effective political journalism while many American news outlets are criticized for allowing elected officials to get away with blatant and repeated lies. Reporters at a press conference repeatedly asked Pete Hoekstra, the new U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, to comment on his remarks at a hearing in 2015. Hoekstra urged the press to move on from the issue, but to no…


Perverting The Language: How The Media Protects A Man Unfit For Office

  By Robert Reich Robert Reich’s Blog (1/12/18) Now that Trump has been president for almost a year, it’s time the media called his behavior for what it is rather than try to normalize it. Here are the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president: 1. Calling Trump’s tweets “presidential “statements” or “press releases.” “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States,” Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last June when asked during his daily briefing how his tweets should be characterized Wrong. Trump’s tweets are…


‘The Biggest Secret’ – James Risen On Life As NY Times Reporter In The Shadow Of The War On Terror

The crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves.   Democracy Now! (1/5/19) We spend the hour with former New York Times reporter James Risen, who left the paper in August to join The Intercept as senior national security correspondent. This week, he published a 15,000-word story headlined “The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror.” The explosive piece describes his struggles to publish major national security stories in the…


Republicans Twist Language When They Say ‘Reforms’ But Really Mean ‘Cuts’

By Jared Bernstein The Washington Post (12/29/17) I have a simple request to journalists, columnist, pundits, and others writing about forthcoming efforts of Republicans to cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the anti-poverty programs that make up our safety net. Call such efforts “cuts.” Do not call them “reforms,” “changes,” “overhauls,” “fixes,” “reshaping,” “modernizing,” or any other euphemism that could easily be misconstrued. At least, do not do so without also clearly defining what they really are, which is cuts. While D.C. insiders speak the unique creole of our swamp, there’s no reason to expect general readers to intuitively understand…


Lee Camp On ‘Redacted Tonight’ – What’s Not Being Reported About About NPR

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (1/1/18) In the eyes of many – especially on the left – National Public Radio has a shiny halo. Unfortunately, the truth falls short of cozy liberal assumptions. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp gives a rollicking good rundown on NPR’s ties to corporate power and how those corporations bask in the “good guy” glow of being associated with NPR. The network has softened and developed a sizeable dose of  jello in its spine over the past ten years. While there will be the occasional tough interview and every once in a great,…


Destroying The Press: A Mysterious Company Bought LA Weekly And Just Gutted Its Staff

  By Lydia O’Connor The HuffPost (11/30/17) Free press advocates and LA Weekly staffers are demanding that the mysterious company that bought the news organization and gutted most of its staff reveal its identity. Semanal LLC, the secretive buyer that formed for the sole purpose of purchasing LA Weekly last month, closed on the sale Wednesday and promptly laid off nine of the 13 members of the alternative weekly’s editorial staff, sending shock waves across an industry already rattled by unexpected reductions and closures. On Thursday, the Society of Professional Journalists condemned Semanal’s continued anonymity. “In an era of rampant misinformation and…


So CBS Didn’t Know There Was Something Up With Charlie Rose? They Should Have Watched Their Damn Show

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (11/23/17) Years ago, in a previous career as a journalist, I worked for a feisty underdog newspaper, The Albuquerque Tribune. We were the afternoon paper and with half the staff fought a scrappy daily battle against the larger, locally-owned and much larger circulation Albuquerque Journal. The dramatic implosion of television journalist Charlie Rose this past week in a tawdry sexual harassment and abuse scandal had me thinking about those days, especially when I saw how CBS News reacted to the whole disaster. Pretty much every news cycle brought fresh allegations, going back years,…


America Is About To Kill The Open Internet And Small Town America Will Pay The High Price

  By Lucy Rock The Guardian (11/21/17) It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer. Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report…


Orwellian: The Corporate Media’s Pathological Refusal To Report The Simple Truth About Trump’s Record Of Lies

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell   By Reed Richardson Fairness & Accuracy in Media (11/16/17) It is a truism to say that everyone lies to someone. Since public officials entrusted with power in our democracy are no exception to this human trait—as historical research documents—it should be exceedingly acceptable to point out that all politicians, from your local city council right up to the White House, lie as well. The Framers afforded the press special constitutional protection in large part to ensure that such lies would not…


With Roy Moore Conservatives Reap The Nasty Whirlwind Of Their War On The Media

  By Rosie Gray & McKay Coppins The Atlantic (11/17/17) All news is “fake news”—at least if you’re a diehard Roy Moore supporter. With sexual misconduct allegations continuing to mount against the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, Moore has defied calls to drop out of the race by advancing an audacious conspiracy theory—that partisan fabulists in the mainstream media are working with his enemies in the political establishment to wage a nefarious smear campaign against him. Not long ago, such claims likely would have backfired. But in the Trump era, anti-press sentiment has reached a fever pitch on the right—something…


Here’s Why Your Local TV News Is About To Get Even Worse

By Margot Susca The Convesation (11/12/17) Considering the history of television news a few years ago, iconic anchor Ted Koppel declared that CBS’ 1968 debut of “60 Minutes” forever altered the landscape of broadcast journalism: A news program drew enough advertising to turn a profit. As Koppel told it, “60 Minutes” showed broadcasters that news divisions could make money – which was a huge shift in how management executives thought of news, affecting both the quality and type of coverage broadcast over the publicly owned airwaves. Until then, broadcast news in the U.S. had been a costly requirement media companies had…


The Only One Punished Since Eric Garner’s Killing Is The Citizen-Journalist Who Recorded It

Ramsey Orta Can’t Breathe By Josmar Trujillo Fair & Accuracy in Reporting (11/8/17)   When we went to a New York state prison to visit Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed a police officer choking Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk in 2014, we didn’t even make it past the metal detectors. Last year, members of El Grito de Sunset Park, an NYC-based group that organizes patrols to film cops on the street, as Ramsey did, drove with me a few hours north to Fishkill prison, where Ramsey was being held. We called ahead to confirm…


Corporate Media Owe Some Big Apologies For Getting IRS Scandal Ass Backwards

  By Justin Anderson Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (10/12/17) Back in May 2013, corporate media outlets expressed alarm at a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that suggested that from 2010 through 2012, the IRS had applied extra scrutiny to groups applying for tax-exempt status with conservative-sounding names. The report, “based on concerns expressed by members of Congress,” said that 96 groups applying for 501(c)(4) exemptions had been targeted for heightened questioning because of terms like “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names. Media harshly condemned the reported targeting, with Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal (5/17/13) calling…


Still Getting It Wrong: How Media Pundits Keep Steering Democrats Into The Shoals

By John Atcheson Common Dreams (9/19/17) In his Monday column at the New York Times, Paul Krugman said: “These days, America starts from a baseline of extreme tribalism: 47 or 48 percent of the electorate will vote for any Republican, no matter how terrible, and against any Democrat, no matter how good. This means, in turn, that small things — journalists acting like mean kids in high school, ganging up on candidates they consider uncool, events that suggest fresh scandal even when there’s nothing there — can tip the balance in favor of even the worst candidate imaginable.” He’s not alone. …


The Best Of What Journalism Can Be: CBS On Puerto Rico’s Never-Ending Emergency

  On The Media (10/13/17) David Begnaud of CBS was in Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria hit on September 20. In the aftermath, he and his team reported for two weeks straight, posting videos on Twitter and sending dispatches to the network. He tracked the logjam of aid stuck in ports, the snaking lines for water, the utter chaos at the San Juan airport. In response, Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have begun nominating him for honorary status as one of their own. After a short break, he’s back on the island and still reporting. Begnaud speaks to Bob about how a recent rainstorm has made…


‘On Contact’ With Chris Hedges: The Fading Away Of The Print Version of ‘The Village Voice’ Emblematic Of Loss Of Alternative Newspapers

On Contact (9/10/17) Chris Hedges is joined by former writers for ‘The Village Voice’ Tom Robbins and Michael Musto. The New York City alternative weekly newspaper announced recently it is ending its free print edition. Robbins, now an investigative journalist in residence at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Musto, a columnist at NewNowNext, reminisce about the muckraking journalism and unrestrained commentary that appeared in the pages of the Voice. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the decline of print newspapers. Link to Story and 29-Minute Video ***** The Consequences Of Declining Local Journalism By Tom Ashbrook On Point (10/3/17) America’s local…


Media Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent On Massive $700B War Dept. Handout

  (Editor’s Note: Now keep in mind, when black ops, intel and veterans services are added, the US is burning over a $1 trillion a year for the War Department. – Mark L. Taylor) By Adam Johnson Fairness & Accuracy in Media (9/21/17) Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history. Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700…


Smothering Dissent: Google Intensifies Censorship Crackdown Of Left-Wing Websites

By Andre Damon World Socialist Website (9/19/17) Google has intensified its censorship of left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites, cutting the search traffic of 13 leading news outlets by 55 percent since April. On August 2, the World Socialist Web Site reported that changes to Google’s search algorithm had led the search traffic of these sites to drop by 45 percent, according to figures by the search analysis service SEMRush. In the ensuing six weeks, the search traffic of every one of these sites, without exception, has plunged further, leading the total search traffic for the sites to fall by an additional nine…


Facebook Enabled Advertisers To Reach ‘Jew Haters’

  By  Julia Angwin, Madeleine Varner & Ariana Tobin ProPublica (9/14/17) Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you. Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” To test if these ad categories were real, we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in…


Is Internet Freedom A Tool For Democracy Or Mind-Numbing Distracting Tool For Authoritarians?

www.thecommonercall.org   By Elizabeth Stoycheff & Eric C. Nesbit The Conversation (7/20/17) The irony of internet freedom was on full display shortly after midnight July 16 in Turkey when President Erdogan used FaceTime and independent TV news to call for public resistance against the military coup that aimed to depose him. In response, thousands of citizens took to the streets and aided the government in beating back the coup. The military plotters had taken over state TV. In this digital age they apparently didn’t realize television was no longer sufficient to ensure control over the message. This story may appear like a triumphant example of the internet…



The Thankless Task Of Being Michael Moore: Liberals Have Completely Misread Trump By Dismissing Him As An Idiot

By Jessica Pressler Vulture (9/6/17) You’d think that by now They would have stopped giving Michael Moore such a hard time. Everything he portended in Roger & Me, his 1989 film about the impact of the closing of General Motors plants on his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and everything he has been banging on about for 30 years since — outsourcing, automation, corporate hegemony, moral and political corruption, elite apathy and greed, the decimation of the middle class, angry white people, the fear and loathing of the far right — all of it has come home to roost, in the form of a very…


American ‘Just-Us’ – Attorney General Sessions Considers Making It Easier To Subpoena Journalists

  Press Freedom Tracker (8/4/17) Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on August 4 that the Department of Justice was “reviewing our policies affecting media subpoenas” as part of a broader crackdown on unauthorized leaks of information to the press. Sessions suggested news organizations had endangered people’s lives by publishing stories based on leaked information, though he did not provide any evidence for this claim. “We respect the important role that the press plays, and we’ll give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” he said at the press briefing. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role…


Warnings About Slippery Slope Of Censoring Nazi Websites Fulfilled As Germany Shutters Left Wing Anti-Capitalist Website

  By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (8/25/17) In a move critics characterized as a dangerous threat to freedom of expression, the German government announced on Friday its decision to shut down a left-wing website it claims has links to violence that broke out during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany last month. “This is what advocates of censorship are spawning,” said The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald in response to Germany’s decision. “Those who advocate state censorship today are its defenseless targets tomorrow.” – Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept Greenwald has sharply criticized those who have, in the aftermath of right-wing violence, advocated the censorship of right-wing views—a position he argues creates a…


Be VERY Careful What You Ask For: People Cheer Companies Kicking Nazis Off The Internet. But Who’s Next?

  By Jessica Shulberg The HuffPost (8/18/17) WASHINGTON ― The Daily Stormer, a website started by a neo-Nazi, has promoted racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic content since it was founded in 2013. But this week, after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, several tech companies effectively kicked the site off the internet. Some of the companies that stopped doing business with The Daily Stormer argued that the website violated their terms of service by inciting violence, which major internet companies prohibit. But a CEO at of one of those firms sent an email to staffers on Wednesday that frankly…


It’s Official: Google & Facebook Are Straight Out Of Orwell’s 1984

“Nobody wants to live in the world they are creating.” Officially approved news, pre-selected history, predictive policing, augmented humanity, black box social engineering, established model officially approved healthcare, spoon feeding of what you are to know, think and believe. 12-Minute Video Evidence Of Google Blacklisting Assault On Left & Progressive Sites Continues To Grow – A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship. Truthout, a…


The Generals Of Unbridled Capitalism Turn To Crush Free Press

  By Clio Chang The New Republic (6/23/17) Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, a documentary about the death of Gawker premiering Friday on Netflix, opens with A.J. Daulerio, the former editor of the site, reading an email from his bank: “We placed a hold on your account.” Daulerio can’t help but laugh as he reads out the unfathomable sum: “$230 million is the amount of the hold.” The big legal fight in 2016 between Gawker and Peter Thiel (featuring Hulk Hogan!) was seemingly preordained for movie treatment. It featured an irresistible cast of characters: a vampiric Silicon Valley billionaire, an…


Why Journalism Matters: How A Scrappy News Outlet Brought Down A Corrupt State Business Hero

  (Editor’s Note: The podcast below really lays out what investigative reporting is about, how it is done, the way established powers resist and why such reporting is absolutely essential for all of us. It also shows the integrity and courage such reporting takes. There’s a lot of good information for young reporters – and citizens – in the podcast. – Mark L. Taylor) By Jessica Huseman ProPublica (8/11/17) Bill Stenger was a local hero. One of Vermont’s most important businessmen, he had created hundreds of jobs with mega-developments across the state. In 2011, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce named him…


Evidence Of Google Blacklisting Assault On Left & Progressive Sites Continues To Grow

  By Andre Damon World Socialist Web Site (8/8/17) A growing number of leading left-wing websites have confirmed that their search traffic from Google has plunged in recent months, adding to evidence that Google, under the cover of a fraudulent campaign against fake news, is implementing a program of systematic and widespread censorship. Truthout, a not-for-profit news website that focuses on political, social, and ecological developments from a left progressive standpoint, had its readership plunge by 35 percent since April. The Real News , a nonprofit video news and documentary service, has had its search traffic fall by 37 percent. Another site,…


Full Transcript Of Wall Street Journal Interview With Trump Leaked

  By Josh Dawsey & Hadas Gold Politico (8/1/17) President Donald Trump called his son-in-law a “good boy” while thanking Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker for a positive editorial about Jared Kushner and said the leader of the Boy Scouts told him his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech ever made to them.” The comments, made to The Wall Street Journal and obtained in a transcript by POLITICO, show Trump holding forth at length with Baker and engaging in a familiar back and forth. Baker, according to the transcript, asked many of the questions and took the lead byline…


Internet Freeze Out Begins: New Google Algorithm Restricts Access To Left-Wing, Progressive Web Sites

By Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth World Socialist Web Site (7/27/17) In the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly. On April 25, 2017, Google announced that it had implemented changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called “low-quality” information such as “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.” The company said in a blog post that the central purpose of the change to its search algorithm…



Corporate Media Largely Silent On US Civilian Death Toll In Iraq

  By Adam Johnson Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (7/19/17) Earlier this week, human rights group Amnesty International issued a lengthy report accusing US-backed forces of “repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes,” in Mosul, Iraq, causing the deaths of at least 3,700 civilians. Neither this report, nor the broader issue of the civilian toll in the US war against ISIS, has come close to penetrating US corporate media. The only major radio or television outlet to report on Amnesty’s claims was NPR (7/12/17). While traditional print outlets, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, did run Reuters (7/11/17) and AP (7/12/17) articles,…


Warping Reality: Computer Scientists Demonstrate The Potential For Whole New Level Of Fake News Video

By Aarti Shahani NPR (7/14/17) An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence. If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the last year, there’s a good chance you’ve come across fake news articles. Well, soon enough we may see a wellspring of fake news videos. As a team out of the University of Washington explains in a new paper entitled “Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from…


Podcast: From Bush To Obama To Trump’s Tweets: The Delegitimizing Of The Press Poses National Threat

  By Katherine Brewer Freak Out & Carry On / WBUR  (7/6/17) This week on Freak Out And Carry On, Ron Suskind and Heather Cox Richardson speak with Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. They respond to President Trump’s CNN and Mika Brzezinski tweets, discuss the media’s role in the first 100 days of the Trump administration and look at historical parallels, from the John Peter Zenger trial to Richard Nixon. Excerpts Nicco Mele: So we’ve done five studies — all of 2015, 2016, and the first 100 days of Trump — looking…


Karma: Joe And Mika Owe America An Apology

TheCommonerCall.org    By Peter Dreier Common Dreams (7/2/17) Most media reports have portrayed Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski as aggrieved victims of Donald Trump’s Thursday Twitter tantrum. It can’t be pleasant to be attacked so personally by the president, but Scarborough and Brzezinski are fighting back. On their MSNBC show “Morning Joe” on Friday and in an op-ed column in the Washington Post entitled “President Trump Is Not Well,” they chastised Trump for his vicious and vulgar attacks on her appearance, for referring to her as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and him as “Psycho Joe.” They denied Trump’s claim that she…


As Democratic Voters Shift Left the ‘Liberal Media’ Keep Shifting To The Right

  By Adam Johnson Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (6/30/17) In the past few years, the Democratic Party’s rank and file have shifted left on major issues. From healthcare to legalization of drugs to taxes, the heart of the party has grown more progressive—and, in many instances, overtly socialist in nature. Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now identify as both socially liberal and economically moderate or liberal, up from 39 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2001. In contrast, nominally liberal media—or major media whose editorial line is reliably pro-Democratic—have drifted rightward. On Wednesday, MSNBC announced it had hired torture-supporting, climate-denying, anti-Arab racist Bret Stephens, a recent hire at the New York Times opinion page….


Roger Ailes: Good Riddance To America’s Number One Hate Propagandist

By Matt Taibbi Roling Stonr (5/18/17) On the Internet today you will find thousands, perhaps even millions, of people gloating about the death of elephantine Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The happy face emojis are getting a workout on Twitter, which is also bursting with biting one-liners. When I mentioned to one of my relatives that I was writing about the death of Ailes, the response was, “Say that you hope he’s reborn as a woman in Saudi Arabia.” Ailes has no one but his fast-stiffening self to blame for this treatment. He is on the short list of people…